Monday, May 19, 2008

New Boston Rail Trail is a Challenge

Remember when I said we're amateurs when it comes to both kayaking and biking? Well, I have a lot to learn about rail trails. We read about the New Boston to Goffstown Rail Trail on the internet, loaded the bikes in the back of the pickup, and set out with great anticipation to find it. The information I'd read online gave no details about the condition of the trail, so I wasn't sure what to expect. (This photo taken at the beginning of the trail is misleading...it's practically the only smooth section we encountered.)

What we found at first was an abandoned rail bed that was impassable with our hybrid bikes. There were huge tree stumps, deep gullies and rocks (shown at right). To an experienced mountain biker, maybe this is tame -- but we didn't have the right gear or experience to tackle this terrain.
Luckily, there were some locals nearby who pointed us toward a connecting portion of the trail that wasn't too bad. We still had to watch out for tree stumps and some rail road ties, but there were some easier sections, too. This was a short (maybe 1.5 mile?) section of trail within New Boston that meanders along the south branch of the Piscataquog River.
While I don't plan to return to this trail anytime soon, there were some positive notes: New Boston's town center is quintessential New England. There's a white steepled church, a gazebo, and a vintage country store where we bought lunch. Plus, there's one of those picture-postcard views of valleys and mountains as you drive from New Boston to Mont Vernon.

Understanding Trail Designations: After we biked here, I found this trail on a NH bike map designated as an abandoned trail bed. Other trails are classified as "Rails to Trails." I'm guessing one is unimproved and the other is improved/maintained. If you have more knowledge about trail designations, please send us a comment.
What to Know Before You Go: The New Boston trail is better suited for walking. If you want to bike, hybrid or mountain bikes are highly recommended. For us, this turned out to be a short 3-mile ride over some fairly challenging terrain. Hardier, more experienced types might be willing and able to tackle the longer section (8 miles round trip) which ends at the Goffstown town line.

Directions: From the center of New Boston, take Route 13 North for a short distance of about 1 mile. Turn left just past a small gas station (on the right) to the 4-H Fairgrounds. There's parking there. We actually entered the trail at Lang Station, further down Route 13. Turn left on Gregg Mill Road to Lang Station State Forest. Lang Station is the small stone house originally built to shelter RR passengers. The section of trail we biked was on the same side of the road as the parking lot.


Anonymous said...

The flooding the last two springs has taken a big toll on sections of this trail. The second photo shown of the deep gully is actually a washout that covers relatively short section of the trail -- and an extreme biking challenge to say the least.

With the exception of this washout, the trail is almost entirely flat, mostly single track with roots and some rail ties. A great place to improve technical skills without working too hard. I strongly recommend a mountain bike. And it is a beautiful area.

Lucie said...

Thanks for the information. From your description, it sounds as though if we had stuck with it and got past this washout, we may have been okay on the trail. I do agree the area is beautiful...and also that it's best tackled with a mountain bike. I wouldn't discourage anyone from trying this trail with the proper equipment. Thanks!